Despite record heat, fires, smoke, and poor air quality, migration seemed largely the same. As with any September, there were plenty of rarities to chase, highlighted by six eastern warblers. Top of the ticket was the county’s first Blackburnian Warbler, found Sept 4 at the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve (EM) and seen by dozens for a couple days until north winds blasted through. It marks the 30th warbler species for the county.
The same location produced a Tennessee Warbler on Sept 10 (SH) and a Northern Parula, seen by many, on Sept 25 (LG). Further upstream, a Northern Waterthrush was photographed on private land on Sept 7 (MK) and was present several days. Nearer the Sacramento River, a Black-and-white Warbler was found Sept 4 along Babel Slough and appeared on and off for two weeks (LC). At Pumphouse Rd, the county’s first live Magnolia Warbler was photographed on Sept 20 (AE) but was never seen again. None of these, however, were the most unusual warbler of the month. That honor belongs to a single female Hermit x Black-throated Gray Warbler photographed Sept 7 at Elk Slough; it is one of the few photographed anywhere.
Other exceptional rarities included a rather uncooperative Buff-breasted Sandpiper, found Sept 22 at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (LE), a Common Tern photographed for the few minutes it spent flying around Woodland/Davis Clean Water Facility (CT), a Least Flycatcher observed by several Sept 5 at Babel Slough (ZP), and a reasonably cooperative, though hard to reach, Gray Catbird, found upstream of Fishing Access 3 in Putah Creek Canyon on Sept 27 (KS).
Mostly unburned, Fishing Access 3 remains a green oasis in the canyon and is attracting wayward migrants and fire refugees. With the LNU Complex Fire burning the western county and beyond, from Vacaville to north of Cache Creek, there has been some evidence of an avian diaspora. Most exceptionally, Hairy Woodpeckers have been found in north Davis (ZP), Putah Creek Riparian Reserve (BW), and along Cache Creek near Guinda (SH). The Davis bird appears to have settled in and is being re-found regularly. Chestnut-backed Chickadees were found Sept 12 along Putah Creek downstream of Stevenson Bridge (RM). The county recorded an exceptional nine Green-tailed Towhees this fall. And a Rufous-crowned Sparrow was discovered all the way down at Babel Slough (SH, FS, KS).
Thanks to the following for their reports: Dan Brown (DB), Lyann Comrack (LC), Leo Edson (LE), Andy Engilis (AE), Leif Gallagher (LG), Steve Hampton (SH), Emmett Iverson (EI), Manfred Kusch (MK), Ethan Monk (EM), Roger Muscat (RM), Zane Pickus (ZP), Frank Severson (FS), Kirk Swenson (KS), Cameron Tescher (CT), Bart Wickel (BW).
Checklists with Photos/audio:
Blackburnian Warbler: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73216032
Northern Parula: https://ebird.org/checklist/S74058313
Gray Catbird: https://ebird.org/checklist/S74146419
Northern Waterthrush: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10218835288216758&set=pcb.10218835310537316
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73945674
Common Tern: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73519028
Cackling Geese: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73148669
Least Flycatcher: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73232420
Hairy Woodpecker: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73830831
Hermit x Black-throated Gray Warbler: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73304740
Compiled by Steve Hampton, Davis, CA